Grenfell Tower Fire Raises Questions About London's Public Housing Safety

A constellation of factors clearly contributed to the aggressive and lethal nature of this fire, with a death count of at least 17 by Thursday afternoon -- a number that will likely grow as investigators move through the building.

A constellation of factors clearly contributed to the aggressive and lethal nature of the fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14. The death count may likely grow as investigators move through the building. (Photo: Wasi Daniju / Flickr)

In the small hours of June 14, a fire started on the second floor of Grenfell Tower, a 24-story public housing block in London’s Kensington neighborhood. Within minutes, the structure became fully engulfed in flames that spread quickly through the building, which housed 120 apartments.

The fire might have been yet another tragedy in a year filled with terrible news, but for one thing: Some of the survivors, as well as other critics, claim it could have been prevented.

NPR estimates that up to 600 people may have been sleeping inside the building when the fire broke out, and survivors testify that they fled with moments to spare — ignoring the building’s fire plan, which directed residents to stay inside units behind allegedly fireproof doors. Observers witnessed people jumping from windows, and at least one infant was tossed from the tenth floor and caught by a bystander on the ground.

While the fire is still being investigated, survivors are raising a number of claims.

The first involves the decorative cladding on the building, which was added during a recent remodel to make the building more visually appealing — with evidence showing that it was selected with an eye to satisfying wealthier Londoners concerned about their views. This cladding, however, may have helped the fire accelerate and spread. The London Fire Brigade had an in fact warned public housing councils in London about the use of such material, saying it contributed to a terrible fire …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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